Archive for February, 2013

Michael Stubbs – Artist


A couple of week ago in my blog ‘Taste is the Common Sense of Genius’, I mentioned that I had attended the private view of artist Michael Stubbs – Solo Exhibition at the Cass Gallery in Whitechapel. The so called tagline to the show goes, ‘This exhibition contextualises Stubbs’ painting practice alongside his rarely seen paper works’. I had only ever seen his paintings so I was very curious to see where they came from and how they evolved.

Being a friend of Mike and an admirer of his work I invited myself to his studio last week hoping to gain more of an insight into where his work comes from and how it’s produced and lets face it, who doesn’t like having a nosy at how and where people work. As a maker and painter it is easy for me to see that his understanding of paint, colour and technique is absolutely expert. Using household paints and tinted varnishes with ready made graphic stencils, I wanted to see how he executed this.

‘BB Beat EF, 2004, household paint and tinted floor varnish on MDF, 198 x 198 cm

 Upon entering the studio the first thing you can’t help but notice is the immaculate white walls and paint caked floor, immediately I took my camera out and started to take pictures of it “I knew you would do that”, said Mike, “Everybody does”. And why wouldn’t they?

The Studio Floor


A new board being prepared against the floor of the studio. Talk about brilliant contrast.


 Mike works leaning over his paintings where they are on the ground. He says he works quickly, spending only a couple of hours at a time in the studio, applying a layer of paint as a pour or in a stencil and then leaving it to dry and contemplating his next move.

Three of the six boards Mike is about to start working on being prepared. The back has the same number of coats of paint that the front does.


A multi-purpose medium


A well used stencil motif becoming an object in itself.


Paint trays.


Rolls of stencils.


A potential palette for a new series of paintings.


The Artists uniform


Ingenious use of stacked tables as shelves. A moment of monochrome on the back wall and a sneak peak of whats to come.


I know what I love about these paintings, first and foremost and as I mentioned earlier is the expertise Mike exhibits with the paint. The contrast of the thickly applied eggshell or gloss paint to the multiple layers of tinted varnish along with the free form of the pours against the strict confines of the stencils interplay with one another pleasingly. The sheer scale of the paintings, like a confined explosion is staggering. It’s the recognisable motifs, a stylised Lichtenstein brush mark, sign writers lettering, which cause me to think that it’s time to learn more about what is going on within them.

Mike explains, “Technique and making is only the means, not the end. What’s equally important (if not more so) is the context the paintings operate within. Like when a DJ plays two tracks and mixes them to make a new tune, I combine genres of Abstraction and Pop Art to make a third language in painting” So far so good, “What you get from the painting is a sensation, which arguably resists meaning and interpretation” I agree, “However, painting is always framed within the history of its particular language. When you combine this with say, the flat of the digital screen, you end up with a clash of methods and interpretation.” I have to admit I’m lost at the last line. 

What does he mean if you combine the pure sensation you get from the painting with the flat of the digital screen? Is this depicted by the gloss black in many of his pictures?  Or when you view paintings through a computer screen? What are the clash of methods he refers to? I can see the different methods of painting…..

All good art leaves the viewer asking questions and searching for answers, much the same way the artist is lead into a painting in the first place. information about domain . I guess it’s thrill of the chase so to speak. 

A corner of ‘Hot Steppa’, 2011, household paint and tinted floor varnish on MDF, 122 x 305 cm


‘Snowblind’, 2002, household paint and tinted floor varnish on MDF, 198 x 260 cm


I leave you with this brilliant Short Studio Film: Michael Stubbs in conversation with John Shilver from Tamazin Devereux. A wonderful look at how Mike paints in his studio and his work in his words.


And if you can, I urge you to get along to the Cass Gallery in Whitechapel this week, the final week of his show.

Details here:  Michael Stubbs – Solo Show, The Cass Gallery.

Visit to see and read more about Mike’s paintings on his website.

Visit Laurent Delaye to see more by the artist.

Taste is the common sense of Genius


I found a few unlikely things caught my eye that surprised me last week.

On Wednesday we went to newly reopened ‘The Quality Chop House’ in Clerkenwell for dinner. The staff were completely charming and very good looking as they all seem to be these days (or is that what getting older does to you? Failing vision?). The set menu was good as were the wine matches, the £170 bill for two was pretty choppy, this was down to the wine by the glass per course, a bit off putting for a bite to eat on the way home from work on a Wednesday. It’s Nandos next time. The reason I wanted to go there was the interior, it has one of those Pie & Mash Shop interiors, all booths with punishing bench seats, lovely wooden panelling, cream paintwork, black & white checker board floors with a bit of brass thrown around for good measure. Totally up my street. What surprised me was that I was quite taken by the cut glass tealight holder that was on our table. So taken I had to take a picture of it. 


Looking at it now, maybe the lack of light and the pair of sexy silver Salt & Pepper Mills were bringing it up a bit? I’m can’t quite believe myself when I say that I like it. But I do! A cut glass tealight holder – whatever next?


Michael Stubbs, ‘Virus Drawing #34’, 2009, vinyl and ink on watercolour on paper


On Thursday night we went to the opening of Mike Stubbs latest exhibition of drawings at the Cass Gallery on Whitechapel High Street, which I thoroughly recommend going to see. Afterwards we went for a drink and caught up with some friends. One of which was rocking this Shearling Jacket, Pink Shirt, School Tie combo, which again, I was completely taken with. See for yourself.




Do you see what I mean? Totally works. Is this surprising?

The third surprise of the week was when I was watching Murder Mystery Solving Duo Rosemary & Thyme (I’m not even embarrassed about it), there was a scene where they were in the most beautiful garden, it looked a lot like Rosemary Verey’s garden at Barnsley House but it wasn’t, filled with clusters of pink Dahlias, so I ordered 100 pink dahlia bulbs and now I can’t wait for the sun to come out and begin planning where to put them in my garden.

If the bullet that killed the Colonel doesn’t match Redding’s gun, I’ll eat my handcuffs.


Over these winter weekends, rather than venture out or do anything virtuous, my boyfriend and I have taken to watching Agatha Christie’s Marple during the afternoons. Being feature length and being the later part of the afternoon I’m not sure either one of us has stayed awake during an entire episode, rather we tag in and out as he or I nod off for half an hour or so and then catch the other one up once rested, not once have we guessed whodunnit. We tried Poirot but both of us feel asleep instantly and for two full hours. No offence intended Monsieur Poirot we obviously needed the rest!

I am reminded of this as I spent some of this morning leafing through one of my most recent (well, December) book purchases, Barbara Jones’s 1974, Grottoes & Follies. What better place to find a murdered body half covered with ivy in a Marple murder mystery than in a Grotto?  I dream of  having a Grotto or Folly of my own to stash bodies in one day. I could say I nearly have one, having commissioned artist Ed Kluz to build Winston the Tortiose a rather grand house, but it’s a house. Perhaps we’ll have to think about adding something to the grounds once its complete and we’ve both had a good look through Grottoes & Follies together….. once I send him some rather crucial measurements I just remembered now!
















A reason for Lunching

I came across this simple lunch idea a little while ago through Esther Walker’s twitter site, she writes the rather witty Recipe Rifle, which makes me laugh quite a bit and I do admire the manner in which she writes. Since starting this blogging I’ve begun to take notice of peoples writing ‘voices’. I’m not confident I’ve found mine yet but am sure with persistence I WILL FIND IT and life will be marginally better or at least blogs will be easier to write.

Anyway, a reason for taking a little break out of the day today was to put this little doozey together. I don’t know where Esther got this idea from, she just had a picture with a brief description (being twittter and a tweet, duh) or if I’m even making it properly but it works and it’s DELICIOUS.


Toasted Sourdough with Lumpfish Caviar & Yoghurt.

Take a couple of pieces of Sourdough bread, rub with a little raw garlic and toast. Once toasted spread with greek yoghurt then lumpfish caviar. Top with chopped parsley and a dash of olive oil and lemon juice. Hey Presto….lunch. Two slices of this with a little snappy salad set me up finely for the rest of the day.